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Find the Ultimate Crunchwrap Copycat at Durham Restaurant Ex-Voto

It easily surpasses the Taco Bell Version

Ex-Voto Crunchwrap

A new restaurant in Durham is slinging Crunchwrap Supremes that put Taco Bell to shame.

At $12, it’s considerably more expensive to buy the Crunchy-Wrap Supremo from Ex-Voto Cocina Nixtamal — which operates a booth at the new Durham Food Hall in downtown — than from its fast-food progenitor. But if you can afford it, this version from Angela Salamanca and Marshall Davis is infinitely more satisfying. By mimicking Taco Bell’s folded creation but relying on better ingredients and preparation, Ex-Voto has created a deeply gratifying and memorable meal.

This offering from Salamanca and Davis — who previously opened Gallo Pelón, North Carolina’s first mezcaleria (in Raleigh) — is worth ordering on a weekly basis. It’s just that good.

Ex-Voto’s booth, which is also known as “Burrito Bodega,” stands at the back of the glitzy food hall adjacent to Durham’s Central Park. Colorful arrows on the floor point patrons in a one-way flow through the space, past an oyster bar, butcher shop, bagel spot, Southern restaurant, and pizza place. It’s no drive thru, but with the ability to pre-schedule orders and swing by Ex Voto’s kitchen window to swipe the bag with your receipt stapled to it, this is a pretty seamless experience. (Delivery is also an option.)

Salamanca and Davis offer everything from chorizo biscuit balls to rompope (referred to as a Mexican eggnog) to take-home pozole kits, which instantly sold out. Burritos and burrito bowls take up the bulk of the regular menu, but the Crunchy-Wraps will turn anyone into a believer. There’s a vegetarian version and another with Mexican chorizo that’s most akin to Taco Bell’s take, but it’s the chicken option that truly shines.

Like the others, the Chicken-Wrap Supremo is folded into a six-inch flour tortilla envelope that’s grilled shut with crispy hoop cheese. A crunchy corn tostada in the center gives the wrap its name, but it’s the alliance of chipotle crema, pico de gallo, queso blanco, pickled jalapeño slices, and masterfully roasted chicken that give this meal its punch of flavor. It’s packing enough heat for some, but others can drizzle some salsa diabla hot sauce from A La Brava (made in Winston-Salem and available at groceries statewide) to take this meal up a notch.

All of Ex-Voto’s Crunchy-Wrap Supremos are significantly more expensive than their inspiration. You could argue they’re gentrifying fast food by charging more than triple Taco Bell’s price. But in reality, these two meals couldn’t be less alike, and the price differential isn’t an artificial inflation, but is instead a reflection of the quality and time invested in the finished product.

Plus, Taco Bell’s Crunchwrap Supreme looks like a deflated balloon. It’s the same width as Ex-Voto’s, but that’s only because it seems as if someone sat on it, forcing all the height out and turning it into a pancake. All the wrong flavors — the iceberg lettuce, the facsimile of a tomato, the sour cream — stand out, rather than the negligible amount of beef spread across the bottom. If you’re looking for crunch at Taco Bell, skip the wrap and go for the Cheesy Gordita Crunch, where the hard-shell taco more easily preserves its stiffness. In the so-called Crunchwrap, it too quickly disintegrates into a thin, mushy film.

Yes, the original Crunchwrap Supreme is a mere $3.69, but it’s a shadow of the version portrayed on the chain’s website. Instead, customers receive a floppy and unsatisfying snack that feels more like a knockoff than the real thing. Eat this version immediately upon receiving it or don’t bother.

In its defense, Taco Bell’s Crunchwrap is not as messy as Ex-Voto’s, and it could be eaten with one hand still on the steering wheel while sailing down the highway. The heft, juiciness, and sauce of Durham’s own — especially in the chicken version — make it a two-handed meal, best enjoyed over a plate and with napkins at the ready.

That tradeoff is absolutely worth it.

Ex-Voto Cocina Nixtamal [Official]
Durham Food Hall [Official]
Gallo Pelón [Official]
Taco Bell’s Crunchwrap Supreme [Official]

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